Lyn Evans

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The Independent Online

Llywelyn (Lyn) John Evans, journalist and television executive: born Cardiff 16 July 1914; Officer for Wales and the West of England, Independent Television Authority, 1959-79; OBE 1969; married 1939 Edna Evans (one son, two daughters); died Cardiff 3 December 2001.

The early 1960s were turbulent times in the development of independent broadcasting in Wales. The first commercial television company, Television Wales and the West (TWW), founded in 1958, shared its territory with Granada. When in 1962 a new consortium, Teledu Cymru, was launched under the leadership of Dr Haydn Williams, Director of Education for Flintshire, its main rival was TWW. Unable for technical reasons to reach its target audience – its signal was too weak for the mountainous terrain – Teledu Cymru ran almost immediately into financial difficulty and, amid bitter acrimony, folded less than a year later.

That TWW was able to take over the assets and function of Teledu Cymru, including the provision of seven hours of Welsh language programmes a week, a crucial consideration, was in large measure facilitated by Lyn Evans, the Independent Television Authority's Chief Executive in Wales. The eyes and ears of the ITA (later the Independent Broadcasting Authority, or IBA, and now the Independent Television Commission, or ITC), Evans brought to his post a profound understanding of the politics of broadcasting, as well as managerial skills of a high order, which ensured that the takeover and subsequent course of independent broadcasting in Wales would be as smooth as possible.

Although he avoided the limelight, preferring to play the discreet civil servant, it was generally known that Evans was at the heart of the decision-making process. He provided, moreover, a persuasive voice in the committees of the ITA in London.

At home, although the most genial of men, he was not averse to speaking plainly if he thought the interests of programme-makers and television executives were in jeopardy. Television, he believed, was a vital sector of the nation's cultural life and needed the most favourable circumstances if it was to flourish.

The same commitment to high standards was demonstrated by Evans after the establishment of Harlech Television (later HTV in 1967), which he oversaw with his usual percipience. One of his extra-office duties, which he accepted with alacrity, was to undertake public engagements the length and breadth of Wales, in which he was able to speak with great eloquence to lay audiences about the complexities of broadcasting policy and practice.

Born in Cardiff in 1914, Lyn Evans was the son of Howell T. Evans, headmaster of the County School at Aberaeron in Cardiganshire, where he was brought up from the age of four. He was inordinately proud of his father's reputation as the author of a number of books on the history of Wales, some of which were widely used as secondary school textbooks during the inter-war years, and wrote an affectionate biography of him, Portrait of a Pioneer (1982).

Although his father was a major influence on his cultural attitudes, it was a matter of regret for Evans that, typical of the time and class to which he belonged, he had not been brought up Welsh-speaking, something he put right when, as a young adult he learnt the language. It was a source of pride to him that his three children were able to speak Welsh.

Nor did he emulate his father's distinguished academic career, but left school at the age of 15 to become a cub reporter on the staff of the South Wales Journal of Commerce in Cardiff's docklands, then as a staff reporter for the Western Mail and The South Wales Echo.

After Second World War service with the RAF Evans he joined The Daily Herald (in South Wales and London), and finally the News Chronicle as editor of its Welsh pages, a post he held until the late 1950s. He moved from journalism into the Civil Service on his appointment as Senior Information Officer of the Central Office of Information in Cardiff.

In 1959 his experience as an administrator and journalist covering Welsh affairs helped him secure the new post of Officer for Wales and the West of England in the Cardiff office of the ITA where he remained until his retirement in 1979. For his services to broadcasting in Wales he was appointed OBE in 1969.

A private man, as much by instinct ads by the exigencies of his profession status, Lyn Evans nevertheless played an active role in the social life of Cardiff. He was for many years President of Cardiff East Rotary Club and a member of the Cardiff Welsh Dining Club, a select and influential group which meets in the capital. He was also, as a staunch Baptist, a trustee of Tabernacl, the chapel in the heart of the city's shopping centre and a member of several choirs.

Meic Stephens